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Hearable Convergence from the Hearing Aid Industry

Did you know that only 10% of those who deal with hearing loss have hearing aids? Currently the largest barrier to entry is both cost and lack of insurance coverage, leading it to be an underpenetrated market. A boom in the industry is on the horizon, as brands that are focused on other markets, such as sports headphones, capitalise on the consumer demand that isn’t being met by established market players.

Opportunities and Challenges in Creating a Bridge Product

While companies that have a firm foothold in an adjacent market are trying to solidify themselves in the hearables market, hearing aids are a full-on all-day wearable device. Therefore, different features are needed for hearing aids, providing both opportunities as well as challenges to manufacturers.

An all-day device requires the ability to seamlessly transition between settings, which also means that the intention of the device needs to change. This isn’t just about moving from one environment to the next. For example, if someone is sitting in a restaurant, they may want to listen to the conversation at their table, the background music being played, or to notice the waiter coming up behind them. The individual hasn’t moved, but that is three different scenarios for the hearing aid in one room. Figuring out how the device can successfully support these different situations is the current challenge.

Computational Powers and SOC’s Driving the Industry

The increase of computational powers and SOCs is driving enhancements in the industry, creating a global impact despite SOCs being primarily US-focused. With sports and work headphone brands claiming a piece of the hearable pie, both sides must learn something from one other:

  • What does it take to provide a device that’s needed for 16 hours a day versus a handful?
  • What is transparent sound for someone with hearing loss?
  • What is transparent sound for someone with 50-60% hearing loss?
  • What is the demographic of those searching or waiting for newer devices to cater to their needs?

It’ll take a combined effort to address the above questions, as the industry continues to pursue the evolution needed to provide a true listening experience for those dealing with hearing loss.

From the Short to the Long-Term Future of Healthcare

The expansion of tracking health via sensors in hearing aids opens the door to a host of possibilities within the healthcare sector. Access to continuous data for the first time is going to change the game of health, starting with and expanding from hearing.

With that kind of data, the way we can predict health both in the present and not-so-distant future will have a major impact on other industries, specifically healthcare. It’s still on the brink, just edging its way to the forefront of the industry, and there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered before we’ll see these products readily available.

Coming back to the present, the most thrilling aspect of the headphones and hearables market is the recognition and conversation happening around hearing loss and hearing aids. It’s prompting businesses to explore new approaches and experiment with new products, which in turn is changing the trajectory of the industry.

For further data-led insights on the headphones and hearables industry, view Futuresource’s latest reports here.

Date Published:

Rasika D'Souza

About the author

Rasika D'Souza

Rasika joined Futuresource Consulting in 2012 after completing her MSc in Marketing from Cranfield University. She is a part of the CE hardware team and specialises in research and analysis of audio hardware. She leads the headphones quarterly and forecasting service.

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